Saturday, April 02, 2011

Recyled Rice

It is 5 AM this Saturday morning and V is busy watching the India- Sri Lanka cricket world cup finals. I am glancing every now and then at the score as I sip my tea, but I thought I would quickly share a very humble recipe that I made this week- a stir fry of vegetables and leftover rice.

A version of this recipe made a frequent appearance on the family table when I was growing up, called phodnicha bhaat in Marathi, which translates as tempered rice. Boiled rice was a staple at almost every meal and invariably there would be some left over. Throwing away this rice was an absolute no-no. A little ghee or oil and a smattering of fragrant spices (mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafetida) is all is takes to transform old rice into a tastier avatar. One version of phodnicha bhaat has lots of curry leaves; another version has a heady aroma with lots of minced garlic added to the tempering.

I love to make my version with thick slices of vegetables, cooked briefly so they stay crunchy and juicy. Pav bhaji masala, a store-bought mix of spices, is a quick way to add lots of savory flavor. I used vegetable juice (of which the V8 brand is best known but every store has its own, I used the Trader Joe's version) to add flavor and to wake up the dry rice.

The vegetables can be whatever you have lurking around. Onions, peppers and peas are always good. I had partial boxes of mushrooms and cherry tomatoes this time. These were offerings from Neighbor Girl. She drops in for dinner all the time, and usually brings something from her kitchen "to contribute to the dinner". It does not matter that the offerings have nothing whatsoever to do with that night's menu. I try and use them the following day! I find it very funny and touching that after dining with us on a regular basis for several months, Miss All-American Neighbor Girl craves dal and subzi and dahi for dinner.

Masala Fried Rice
(2 to 3 servings)

2 cups cold cooked rice (white or brown, your choice)
2 tsp. oil
12 cup vegetable juice (like V8) or equal parts tomato puree and water
Plenty of minced cilantro for garnish

1 medium onion, thinly sliced
12 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful frozen peas (optional)

12 tsp. ginger garlic paste
12 tsp. turmeric powder
12 tsp. red chilli powder
1-2 tsp. pav bhaji masala (I love Everest brand)
Salt to taste

  1. Heat the oil and saute the onion until translucent. Add the rest of the vegetables and stir fry on medium high heat for a few minutes.
  2. Add all the ingredients listed under spices. Stir fry for a minute.
  3. Add the cooked rice and vegetable juice and mix well. If the rice you are using is quite dry, you may need more vegetable juice. Cover and let the rice heat through until it is steaming- 8 to 10 minutes. The rice at the bottom of the pan should get slightly crisp and browned.
  4. Garnish with minced cilantro.
I love serving this fried rice with a scoop of chilled plain yogurt, and it gets even better if you pile on some kettle cooked potato chips on your plate, for that utterly crave-able combination of spicy rice and vegetables, cool, creamy yogurt and the satisfying crunch of chips. With the very first bite, you will forget that you're eating leftovers.

Is it just me, or are these quick and humble dinners a hundred times more soul-satisfying than any elaborate party dish you could be served?

On The Bookshelf
Lately, the winter funk has been my excuse to indulge in all kinds of comfort reading in the form of non-cerebral cozy mysteries. I love me a good murder mystery but it is not always easy to find authors who strike the right balance between high quality writing and a fast paced, juicy story line.

I need to thank Niranjana of Brown Paper for introducing me to Patricia Wentworth- I managed to find a couple of her books in the library and I agree with everything Niranjana says in her terrific review.

A Ravelry friend introduced me to a website called Cozy Mystery designed for devotees of the genre. And from the lists there, I managed to find two authors that I've really enjoyed reading.

The first is Susan Hill- her detective is the brooding Simon Serrailer.

My very favorite find has been Caroline Graham and her Inspector Barnaby. I love her style of creating a world of interesting characters and I have a feeling I'll be reading one of her books every week until the weather gets nicer or until my two libraries run out of her works, whichever comes first. It is lovely to know that cozy mystery reading does not begin and end with Agatha Christie and that there are plenty more whodunits out there waiting to be read.

What are you reading these days? Have a lovely weekend!


  1. Hi Nupur,

    I just tried your Misal Pav and it was awesome. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Very interesting addition of vegetable juice in the rice dish. Sound healthy and delicious.
    Haven't been reading any books these days. The 3 yr old wants all the attention.
    Hope India wins. Enjoy ur weekend.

  3. A lovely homey dish - I love having leftover rice - often make fried rice but am always looking for other ways to use it.

    Must look up susan hill - love mystery writers with a bit of writing skill - some of my favourites are stephen booth and quintine jardine (the bob skinner mysteries). that is interesting you are enjoying the inspector barnaby books - I haven't read any but love watching midsomer murders which is based on these books

  4. Glad you liked Wentworth! Btw, I have discovered a new crime novelist I'm really enjoying--Louise Penny. you may want to give her a shot once your library runs out of Grahams :)

    And OMG, 5 AM on a Saturday!I don't think even that lovely meal could compensate for an early wake-up. I am so not a morning person!

  5. No, it's not just you--I love quick fixes and recycles and clever shortcuts. I think what makes them satisfying is the cleverness that went into the transformation. Phodnicha bhaat has endless possibilities, and yours is a definite must-try! I am curious to see how the vegetable juice will work in a dish like this!

  6. What a nice way to use up old rice :) Even i hate wasting food - be it rice or the side-dishes. Next time, I'll make this to use up old rice.

  7. rice looks delicious,...enjoy the match,..

  8. I remember my English teacher at school was very keen on Susan Hill and always recommending her. The rice looks so tasty.

  9. who would not want to eat this flavourful recycled rice....

  10. Good use of the leftover rice..Left overs get transformed all the time in my kitchen and my husband is always appreciative of the fact that we don't waste food unless we have to :) and Congratulations for the World cup!!

  11. I lovely veg paella this is Nupur!

  12. I am actually reading an Agatha Christie now after ages and feeling all nostalgic. Great timing, will check out these authors..

  13. Nice tip for leftover rice!
    I just finished a book called
    I finished Obsessive Genius: The inner world of Marie Curie
    It is a wonderful book for all who are involved in science and specifically for women even if they are not in science but in any other profession it is a fantastic read.
    It demystifies the legendary image of Madame Curie but it makes her more loveable.
    It accounts the bouts of depressions, the parental challenges, the politics in science and team work of a couple, the concerns of a mother and above all the strong will of a scientist.
    It also talks a lot about the development of science as atom and inside of an atom was coming to existence in this era.
    Any scientist can get caught in the unknown effect of his/her discovery and that was a eye opening part for me, as feel very dumb when I cannot understand the results I get from experiments.
    I liked specially the easy language and story like approach of the book and specially a close look into a household where women led science for 3 generations, helped in world wars and fought for women rights in their own ways.
    The book tells a story of women, immigrant, science, family, parenting, politics, extramarital affairs, popularity and above all of human race as a whole.

  14. I agree with you on humble food being better than a lot of complex stuff. I am more inclined to throw leftovers and pasta together, so thanks for sharing this one, it will be a nice twist the next time I have some rice left.

    Thanks for the reading suggestions as well - it's been a while since I read a good criminal, so I'm keen to give those books a try.

  15. Rice looks fabulous,love the name of the dish..

  16. Where in St. Louis can I find Everest pav bhaji masala?

  17. What a coincidence Nupur! I recently blogged about Phodni CHi Chappati and Fodni Cha Bhaat -

    I simple love any dish made out of leftover rice and will try your masala fried rice/....Tawa pulao made out of leftover rice is another fave.....

  18. Your masala fried rice looks so delicious, I dont think I will wait for leftover rice to make it! I'm sure you both enjoyed the nailbiting finish of the match!!!
    Right now I am reading Digital Fortress by Dan Brown. I have read his Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol. It is an interesting thriller and as much as I want to know what happens next, I don't want it to finish!!!

  19. Nupur,
    Methinks you will like MC Beaton (Agatha Raisin or Hamish Macbeth series) set in the English Cotswolds if you found Patricia Wentworth entertaining.Read the Guernesey literary and potato peel society on your recommendation.Loved it!

  20. Hey Nupur,
    Loved your version of rice with veggies. I love simple meals. And I am always hunting for recipes that give me a chance to use up leftover vegetables from my fridge.

    I recently read "The Fifth Vial" by Micheal Palmer and liked it. Will try your suggestions too.

  21. Anon- I'm very glad the recipe worked for you!

    Pavani- I added the vegetable juice because I had some in the fridge, and was amazed at how well it worked in the dish!
    Does your 3 year old like being read to?

    Johanna- I love having leftover rice too- makes for an instant meal. Thanks for sharing your favorite authors. I will look for them!

    Niranjana- Ooh another author to add to the list- Thanks!
    And yes, I am very much a morning person. I am at my best at 5 AM, very alert and productive, and then it is all downhill from there :)

    Saee- The vegetable juice works like stock, adding tons of flavor and oomph, but even better!

    Sarah- Thanks!

    notyet100- Thanks!

    Corina- I'd never heard of Susan Hill until a few days ago but am glad I discovered her.

    Swarnavalli- Thanks!

    harini-jaya- Yes, we hate wasting food in my home too.

    Anjali- You know, that's exactly what I thought too when I was making this, it looks very much like paella :)

    Nags- I need a Christie fix once in a while too, for old time's sake.

    Chandrima- Thanks for the recommendation. The book sounds excellent and I will look for it.

    lacaffetierarosa- Oh yes, pasta also pairs well with whatever is in the fridge.

    Priya- Thanks!

    Ps- I can't remember where I bought mine but perhaps you could check in Global Foods (Kirkwood) and Seema enterprises (two branches: Page and Manchester).

    Smita- Ooh tawa pulao sounds fabulous!

    namita- Yes Dan Brown knows how to keep readers on edge. The match had a fantastic outcome :)

    Vimala- I actually read two books by MC Beaton in the last month and thought they were OK but I did not enjoy them as much as some of the other authors I have been reading. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Swapna- Oh yes, all leftover veggies can go into this rice. Hope you are doing well!

  22. I am a big fan of Caroline Graham as well. Her Inspector Barnaby has been televised here in UK and has been running for, I think, the 5th season now. Love watching that too, its called Midsomer Murders. You might want to have a look at that too :)

    The Rice looks delicious!

  23. The winter funk's got me in a mood for comforting, classic romance, and I've finally got around to reading the book one of my favorite movies is based on-- Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.

  24. I love fodanicha bhaat. Your addition of vegetable juice and mushrooms (not commonly used in traditional M'shtrian kitchens) looks interesting. Will definitely give this a try!

  25. Hi Nupur,

    What a co-incidence ..I made Tawa Pulav today and this is almost similar..only there the veggies are cooked in the onion and tomato you use veggie juice...almost the same ingredients!!!
    Nice click! ve been hating the weather in STL this year...its almost the weather Gods cannot decide on whether or not its spring yet!!


  26. This recipe sounds SO yummy! The books sound good, too. haha

    Really though, thanks for the new authors. I've been looking to find a good murder-mystery and these sound promising.

  27. Nupur, you've been in my thoughts all day and I just had to drop by to say hello. Hope you are well and I see that Dale is fine too.

  28. I do so want to try this now. I'm always looking for new ways to serve rice and vegetables, and stir fries are getting old.

  29. Hi,

    Your website is lovely...a ton of mouth watering Marathi recipes.

    I am from Pune and will be travelling with my parents to San Francisco to visit my brother and his family.

    I was wondering if anyone here can refer someone who can come home and cook plain normal vegetarian Marathi/India food.

    With regards,

  30. Wasn't the match great!! I had to wake up at ungodly hours to watch the last three matches, but sumonned up enough will to do it..:)

    I love recycled rice with yogurt and chips too. I usually saute left over rice in a bit of ghee with sliced onions and veggies. Sometimes I add pureed spinach and cilantro.I've also added cooked and pureed butternut squash (pureed with herbs) in the past, and that used to result in a pretty yummy dish too.
    I recently found chips in the Indian store which are very like the chips that you get in those small stores in India (the ones which have names like ruchi etc)- so enjoying that with recycled pulao and khichdi these days.

    I am sort of stuck as far as reading goes..Started Elizabeth Costello by Coetze (which I was enjoying) but had to return it to the library. Will borrow it again today and resume.

    These mysteries sound like the perfect light reading. I finished the last of the mccall smiths (the scotland street ones) that I could get my hands on at the library- so my light reading has also dried up. Will look for these books.
    Any specific titles you recommend?

  31. bhagyashri- I've been looking for the Midsomer Murders on DVD or netflix streaming but no luck so far.

    Vaishali- Ooh I should look for that one!

    snehal- Yes, I wanted to use up whatever I had on hand, traditional or not :)

    Shobha- The weather really has been nuts this year- this week is rainy again- yikes!

    applequark- I hope you enjoy these mysteries.

    Cynthia- How sweet of you to think of me! I hope you are doing well too. Dale is waving his paw and says hello :)

    katie- If you try it, I hope it turns out well!

    Atul- Thanks. I don't know of anyone who works as a cook in SF though.

    Lavanya- Your versions of recycled rice sound fabulous!

  32. Hi Nupur,

    Love your blog and your writing style - the way you describe your dishes makes one actually want to try them. Your pav bhaji recipe has become a hit with my husband and I.

    I tried this recipe this morning, served it with onion raita and chips and I must say it was so YUMMY.

    Thanks for this one - we're always wondering how to reuse rice without it tasting dry and mealy and this was an awesome idea.

    Nisha =)


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